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The Ransom of Red Chief - An O. Henry Story

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PROGRAM INFORMATION

  • United States
  • English

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The Ransom of Red Chief may be the most widely read story in grammar, middle, and high school. Young people can relate to 10 year old Red Chief, his father who makes the kidnappers pay him back in order to take Red Chief off their hands plus come in darkness so others don’t jail them, and all the antics and excitement of it all. It is not read or heard widely after one leaves high school, which is a shame because it is such a magical story about expectations being crushed by realities, and the turn of events which O’Henry was so masterful at achieving, as in The Gift of the Magi, too, the other best known O’Henry story that Simply has also recorded. The humor is Southwestern style, with some of the violence of that frontier humor immortalized by Mark Twain. We think of O’Henry as a New Yorker due to his successful story collections focused on New York such as The Four Million and The Trimmed Lamp, but he spent time in Texas on various speculations and, in fact, wound up in a Texas jail for three years before coming to New York and prospering with his unique story telling ability. The Texas influence is strongly felt here, not just in Southwestern humor, but the sense of space and vistas, with few people populating them. A final thought for the reader: Is there anyone similar to O’Henry in style? We can’t think of one and that is another reason to listen to these stories. We believe most Southwestern humor in short stories even better heard than read. The Ransom of Red Chief, The Gift of the Magi, and Mark Twain’s short stories are no exceptions. As with all Simply short stories, you should enjoy the ideas put forth in the introduction and afterword.O'Henry's other two best loved stories are also recorded: The Cop and the Anthem and A Retrieved Reformation. Keywords: Ransom, Southwestern humor, Mark Twain, Gift of the Magi, O’Henry, New York, the Four Million, The Trimmed Lamp.
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